A proposal to make B5 Bioheat® Fuel the new standard in New York City passed an important procedural step recently when a New York City Council subcommittee held a public hearing on the proposal.
Council Member Costa Constantinides chaired a hearing by the Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection on Intro. No. 642, which is the local bill that would transform the city’s heating oil supply. The City has already mandated the use of B2 Bioheat, while the state has mandated the use of ultra low sulfur heating oil.
“We had a lot of testimony from various stakeholders, most of it positive,” Constantinides told Oil & Energy, noting that the administration of Mayor Bill DiBlasio has endorsed the plan to move to B5.
Intro. No. 642 calls for a B5 standard in 2016 followed by a series of incremental biodiesel blend increases: B10 in 2020; B15 in 2015; and B20 in 2030. The Council also heard testimony on a companion bill, Intro. No. 880, which would increase the use of biodiesel in New York City’s school buses.
Constantinides will now work to bring the plans to a vote by the Committee and then by the full City Council. “New York City has a great opportunity,” he said. “In a city where climate change is an issue and asthma is an issue, we have a chance to take advantage of what biodiesel has to offer, and we are going to grab that with both hands.”
NYOHA Voices Support
During the recent hearing on Intro. No. 642, Rocco Lacertosa, CEO of the New York Oil Heating Association (NYOHA), testified in favor of increased biodiesel blending. “The New York Oil Heating Association has played a vital and vocal role in advocating for the increased use of Bioheat in New York City and supports the goals of Intro 642 to increase biodiesel blends in all heating oil for New York City buildings and Intro 880, which would set a fuel standard of B5 for school buses,” he testified. He said Bioheat is “among our city’s more effective tools to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality and reduce dependence on foreign oil.”
“NYOHA and its members enthusiastically supported the B2 heating oil standard put in place in 2012 and have been at the industry forefront of distributing and promoting Bioheat and NYOHA, and have supported state measures to require ultra-low sulfur heating oil and city measures to eliminate number 6 heating oil, as well as phase out and significantly reduce the sulfur levels of number 4 heating oil,” he testified.
“Today, we are proud to say that three years after the B2 fuel standard was implemented, Bioheat has been a great success,” Lacertosa continued. “Heating oil in New York City is already, by far, the cleanest heating oil sold anywhere in the United States, significantly contributing to the city’s 80-by-‘50 emissions reductions plans.
In addition to improving air quality and encouraging energy independence, Bioheat has enhanced green job creation, and supported local family owned businesses and labor.
“Building owners have found that it is not only safe and seamless, but that it actually improves fuel efficiency, helps clean and preserve building equipment, and reduces the need for periodic heating system maintenance. In addition, biodiesel is widely available and currently costs the same or less than traditional heating oil, making it a long-term, cost-efficient option.
“Our experience has shown that B5 is working very well in building equipment. However, we feel that it is important to more thoroughly analyze the implementation of higher biofuel blends. Heating oil infrastructure in buildings varies by type and age, and we would want to ensure that compatibility with higher blends could work in a seamless fashion. This takes time and resources. For this reason, we feel that Intro 642 would be best amended to require a B5 fuel standard starting in 2016, and then study the feasibility of going as high as B20 in the near future.
“Our goal is to continue to increase the blends as the collective group of stakeholders deems it safe and reliable. NYOHA’s goal is to be at B20 biodiesel, and we wish to work with the Council on eventually reaching that goal in sensible and well-monitored steps so as to ensure a smooth transition to this powerful, more renewable fuel.”
UMEC Advocates for Bioheat
Daniel Gianfalla, President and Chief Operating Officer of United Metro Energy Corp. (UMEC), a Brooklyn, NY-based wholesaler, also testified at the hearing. “UMEC has been a vocal advocate for New York City’s Bioheat requirements and has actively supported legislation to phase out numbers 4 and 6 heating oil. Over the past decade, UMEC is proud to have partnered with the New York City Council and the Mayor’s Office, most recently supporting the 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.
“Today, we enthusiastically support Intros 642 and 880. We believe both these bills will help reduce harmful carbon emissions and help to keep our City secure, economically competitive and vibrant. Intro 642 builds on the record of success that New York City has established with the pioneering B2 fuel standard for heating oil in residential and commercial buildings.
“Since the law went into effect, the City has replaced more than 80 million gallons of petroleum with renewable domestic biodiesel. And in that time, the price of heating oil in New York Harbor actually decreased while air quality has improved,” he continued.
“Buildings produce over 75 percent of emissions, and Intro 642 will help continue to reduce those emissions. In fact, increasing our biofuel use to a 5 percent blend in home heating oil would be equivalent to taking 45,000 cars off the road.
“Consumers clearly win here. Over the past three years of a B2 biodiesel requirement in New York City, on average, biodiesel has been less expensive than traditional heating oil in 30 of 37 months by almost 23 cents per gallon. And, the fact that Bioheat requires no change in equipment, is also a big advantage to consumers.
“United Metro Energy is a believer in what biodiesel has to offer the City of New York. We are in the final phases of building a biodiesel-processing plant – right here in Brooklyn – creating good local jobs and promoting energy independence. Designed to produce 50 million gallons per year of biodiesel, UMEC’s processing facility will allow for the offset of 365,000 tons of carbon, or 730 million pounds, annually,” Gianfalla testified.
“Moreover, a high percentage of biodiesel used for heating oil in New York City comes from recycled restaurant grease – which would otherwise clog up the city’s sewer systems.
“The same advantages that apply to using biofuels in buildings apply to vehicles. We support the goals of Intro 880 to require all New York City school buses – roughly 9,500 vehicles – to use fuel that is a minimum of 5 percent biodiesel. This is the logical next step for New York City, because the City has already successfully been using a variety of biodiesel blends in the City’s fleet and most recently, City-owned marine craft, like the Staten Island Ferry. United Metro Energy has a great deal of experience with its own fleet in this regard. Currently, all of United Metro’s trucks are fueled with Biomax, our enhanced, custom blended biodiesel.
“Exhaust emissions from petroleum diesel fuel inhaled on a consistent basis have been linked to asthma and other respiratory conditions. We have an opportunity with this bill to reduce these pollutants and improve quality of life for New Yorkers,” the EMEC executive testified.